Congressman Charlie Rangel may have trounced State Senator Adriano Espaillat in East Harlem, but the neighborhood’s most powerful pol said today her backing still mattered.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was an aggressive supporter of Mr. Espaillat’s campaign, claimed her endorsement was “helpful”–even after Mr. Rangel bested Mr. Espaillat by about 2,000 votes and the Associated Press declared the congressman the winner of the race.
“My endorsement was helpful because at the end of the day there were more votes Adriano achieved in East Harlem,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said at a City Hall press conference. “So I’m proud of the campaign he ran. I’m proud to have supported him. If he concedes, then we move on but definitely I look forward to working with Congressman Charlie Rangel in the next two years.”
Mr. Espaillat has yet to concede the race, waiting for the Board of Elections to count paper and affidavit ballots. Observers say it is unlikely Mr. Espaillat will make up the deficit.
Mr. Espaillat’s probable loss was a disappointment for Ms. Mark-Viverito and the local Democrats that backed him. Ms. Mark-Viverito, who is Puerto Rican, campaigned repeatedly with Mr. Espaillat in the heavily Latino East Harlem to drum up support for the Dominican-American lawmaker. Puerto Rican voters, however, still voted for Mr. Rangel and the 84-year-old incumbent won just about every election district in the neighborhood.
Though Mr. Rangel and the national Democrat establishment declared a winner in the race for the upper Manhattan and Bronx-based seat, Ms. Mark-Viverito wouldn’t say whether she thought Mr. Espaillat should concede.
“That’s for him to decide,” she said.